- Family and Parenting
The Cat That Saved Our Daughter
Emergency & Life Changes
I want you to know from the beginning - this is a happy story.
My daughter, Lily, started having seizures 12 years ago. She was almost 3 years old. It was a night that will remain etched in my mind until my dying day.
I try to focus on today and not allow my thoughts to linger in the past; but sometimes the memory slaps me upside the head without warning. That night Lily should have been sleeping when I checked on her. It was around 2:00 am and I found her in her room, sitting up but completely unresponsive. My husband and I bundled her up, called my mom and rushed her to the ER. My daughter's face, her fear, the lighting, the smells, the pale and frightened faces of my husband and mom will all remain a crystal clear picture in my head.
This is how life with Epilepsy can play out. One moment life is carrying on as usual, the next your child is in mortal danger. Even when the waters are calm, the fear remains beneath the surface, waiting to emerge. Lily has partial complex seizures with secondary generalization.
It did not take long to find out that there is an astounding lack of awareness about Epilepsy.
If you would like to learn about Epilepsy, please visit http://www.efa.org for a lot of great information. It may one day save the life of someone you love.
A New Family Member!
Lily was four years old and had just woken up from her daily nap. She came stumbling out of her room rubbing her eyes with both hands. Her hair was a wild mess of sleepy curls her cheeks were flushed and she had major sleepy eyes. She was also in a terrible temper. This was not the "pouting face but still cute crab." This was, hands down, a stamping her feet, rage-filled, maybe we should check for hidden horns and a pitchfork sort of mood.
Despite the warning signs, we carried on with the plan that was already in action.
Her dad crouched down, reached his hands out and said, “We have a present for you, baby!” We all waited in gleeful anticipation as she gazed upon her tiny new kitten and screamed, “I DON’T WANT IT!” in a screeching voice that could most assuredly be heard by dogs throughout the world.
It was not the cheerful reaction we expected and hoped for. I don’t even care that I ended that sentence in a preposition.
I envisioned her bright eyes lighting up with excitement as her little arms reached out insisting, “I want to hold her!” Maybe she would bounce around on her feet a little, clap her hands and giggle. I can picture that moment in my mind. I've seen it in movies. I could lie to myself and you and say that it happened that way, but the truth is so much more fun and appalling.
My mom was there throwing out supportive comments like, “Aw, she’s just tired. Bunny, this is so neat. Come on now, put your forked tongue back in your mouth and stop stomping your hooves. She is just what you wanted!”
Lily's unexpected surprise was a tiny, 12 week-old Cornish Rex kitten. Her name was Flower Bella and she was 12 ounces of pure delight. We brought her home in the tiniest of homemade sweaters to keep her cuddly warm in the balmy 80 degree Phoenix night.
Lily suffered horribly and wanted nothing to do with the kitten for about 2 minutes and 17 seconds. What followed was the magical creation of an immediate and beautiful bond that remains to this day - 11 years later.
In the following days and weeks, Lily would crawl around on all fours for hours and Flower would trot along beside her. She called this game Kitty Sisters. It did not matter that Flower was so tiny; they were both very happy to be together playing, sleeping or lounging.
A Special Gift
Looking back at the day we brought Flower home, I had no idea that she would be such a wonder and gift of support for Lily and our family. I sit here looking at my 15 year old Lily who is sick in bed again. I look to her left and see Flower lodged nicely between Lily and her laptop computer - purring like crazy. Lily is gently petting her head and scratching her cheeks every now and then. I look at my baby and my fur baby and thank God that he sent one of his special angels to see us through each day.
A short time after Flower's arrival we noticed something extraordinary. Any time Lily was sick, Flower was pressed up against her purring. Every time Lily had a seizure, Flower was there. It soon became obvious that Flower could sense when Lily was ill.
What I found even more extraordinary was that she could sense when Lily was getting sick. She always knows it before we observe any symptoms. Over the years she has remained what we call Lily’s cat-ometer. Flower continued to stay glued to Lily when she is ill.
The other night Lily was very upset over my and her dad’s impending divorce. She was crying the cry of the broken hearted. The kind, as a parent, you would move heaven and earth to fix if it was possible. Flower came running into the bedroom and sat right next to Lily. She decided she was not close enough so she dragged herself up on to Lily’s lap and purred with the power of a freight train. No lie, I could feel the bed shaking with the power of her healing purrs.
I have heard incredible stories about guide dogs and other assistance animals, but I have never heard of a cat with those same qualities. I am sure they are out there and we were just lucky enough to score one of our own.